Tag Archives: Collaborative Writing

Evaluations and Proposals

Evaluation_website

Building Evaluations

What we have to work with:

  • Criteria for Evaluations–Practical, Aesthetic, Ethical
  • Templates for constructing an argument
    • e.g. “X is (not) a good Y because it (fails to) meet(s) criteria P, A, E.”
  • Evaluation arguments are focused on judgments (this is how you should feel about something).  Evaluations focus on whether or not a particular thing “is” problematic (or good or bad) and often what positive or negative consequences occur from this phenomena.  two-thumbs-up
  • Evaluation arguments usually proceed through a strategy of matching components of the evaluated item to specific criteria.  Typically, we put evaluative critieria into one of three categories:
    • Ethical–“right or wrong” “moral” “proper”
    • Aesthetic–“appealing to the senses” “artistic” “captures the spirit”
    • Practical–“beneficial” “economical” “realistic”
  • Evaluation Arguments must be made using practical, ethical or aesthetic criteria.  In other words, it follows the structure “X is (not) a good Y because it (fails to) meet(s) criteria A, E, P.” Otherwise, it’s simply a statement of your opinion with no sound reasoning behind it such as…

Kanye West, Taylor Swift

 

  • Pick an item to be evaluated
  • Find out the stakes involved in the claim (is this evaluation controversial and/or interesting to others? Who would be opposed to this evaluation and why?)
  • Develop criteria for evaluating that item (what makes it good or bad? which are most important? which are obvious and which ones do you have to argue for? Which are most likely to impact your audience?)

ex:

Google Maps is the best mapping program because it is easy to use, it is accurate, and it provides entertaining and educational features such as Google Earth.

ex:

astronautRecently, NASA decided to end the space shuttle program.  However, NASA will continue to send humans into space and are researching new vehicles for the purpose.  Since the beginning of the space program, the issue  of whether or not manned space flight is a necessary risk has been a guiding question for NASA as well as its detractors. How can we evaluate whether or not this is a good policy?

  • Practical:
    • Space travel enhances scientific knowledge and many technological benefits have resulted from the research done in this objective. (Pro)
    • We can more cheaply send robots instead of humans. (Con)
  • Aesthetic
    • Space travel is essential to the way we understand ourselves as humans; mtv-moon-astronaut-moonman-flag-300x192US astronauts in space is an indelible American cultural image; popular culture (e.g. MTV) has adopted space pioneers as heroes. (Pro)
    • The very public loss of life due to space disasters can be harmful to our national psyche. (Con)
  • Ethical:
    • Much of space exploration undertaken benefits, directly, human life on earth. (Pro)
    • The huge expenditure required for human space travel would be better used elsewhere.  Human life is endangered by space travel. (Con)

 Weighting Criteria:

Often, as in the space travel example above, there will be both positive and negative conclusions based on your criteria.  After all, if there were *only* good or *only* bad consequences from an action, we probably wouldn’t have to bother doing a formal evaluation.  Therefore, we need to analyze both sides of any topic.

 


Once you have evaluated a situation or problem and discussed the ramification of the issue for stakeholders, you are ready to move on and propose a solution.

BusinessPlan

Much like evaluations, proposals are created based on specific criteria and follow a basic structure responding to your claim that “We should (should not) do X.” Proposals are typically arranged in a three part structure:

1. Convincing the audience that a problem exists

e.g. “Economic decline has demoralized the residents of Detroit.”

2. Showing the particulars of your proposal (your solution to the problem)

e.g. “Therefore, we should build a statue of RoboCop…”

 

3. Justifying why your proposal should be enacted (that your proposal is feasible and will have positive outcomes).

e.g. “…which can be financed by private donations.  This should be done because it will spur tourist interest in the city as well as honor Detroit’s emerging role in film culture.”

http://thenypost.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/robocopinset.jpg

 

Priorities: 

Is the real challenge convincing your audience that a problem exists or is it convincing them of a viable solution to a problem they already know exists?

  • Prioritizing the Problem: Depending on the particulars of your topic, one or more of these items may be prioritized over the others. For instance, if you are proposing a fairly straightforward change that requires little detail – say, convincing an audience to ban stem cell research – you might spend the majority of its times on item one (convincing the audience that stem cell research is a problem), with items two (it should be banned entirely in the US) and three (negative consequences if the ban is not enacted) relegated to the final few paragraphs.
  • Prioritizing the Solution: Conversely, often your proposal might be addressing what the majority (if not all) of your audience will agree is a problem; in this case, the challenge is providing a viable solution (if the finding the solution is not a problem, presumably the problem would have already been solved). For instance, most WSU students would agree that parking on campus is a problem; however, providing a feasible solution to this problem is difficult.

The Outline:

  1. Introduction with a nice hook enticing the reader.   Introduction should state:
    1. If you choose to write to a specific audience, say, legislature, you must state the nature of the audience
    2. Issue/problem at hand
    3. Your thesis as the form of a proposal responding to that issue. “We should (not) do X.”
  2. The Stakes–Convincing the audience a problem exists.  In this section, you will evaluate the issue.
    1. What is the problem? Use Practical, Ethical, or Aesthetic criteria to describe the issue
      1. What are the negative consequences?
      2. What is the extent of the problem?
      3. Define any terms that arise which may be controversial.
    2. Who are the stakeholders? Who is affected? Who stands to be affected next?
    3. Is there an end/relief in sight?
  3. The particulars of your proposal.  In this section, you may have to define terms or concepts with which your audience may not be familiar.  All aspects of your proposal needs to be discussed in detail and may include the following:
    1. What is required to enact your proposal? (a new law, money, willingness to change, etc.)
    2. Feasibility of your solution.  Much like Practical Criteria of Evaluations
    3. Positive benefits of your solution discussed using Practical, Ethical, or Aesthetic criteria
  4. Justification of your solution.  Any one or all of the following may apply.  Your task is to discuss them and show why your proposal is superior.
    1. Counterarguments may arise as to whether or not your issue is even a problem.
    2. Your solution may be controversial to enact.
    3. It may have unintended negative effects.
    4. Alternative solutions may have been suggested.
  5. Conclusion.  Like all good conclusions, wrap up the paper.  Restate (not word-for-word) the issue and proposal. Make a final push to persuade.

Homework: Read your research. Begin drafting sections of the essay.  Rough Draft in class by Tuesday, November 13.

Write: On your blogs, please post by Thursday, 11/6, a response (of no more than 300 words) to the following:

How do you view yourself as a researcher? How has this changed over the semester?  What do you view as your role within your group? How is this beneficial to the group as a whole? How have your experiences with collaborative writing in this class differ from other experiences you may have had working with a group?

1020 Session Fifteen: Team Charters and Research Issues

Team Charters:

Before work can truly begin on Project Four, even before you make a final decision on a research problem, it would be helpful to know how your team will plan to work.  With your group mates, develop a team charter.  Address the following points:

  1. Overall, broad team goals for the project
  2. Measurable, specific team goals
  3. Personal goals
  4. Method of collaborating on research, writing, and revision (you may wish to revisit Session Seven).  Be specific, here, about the means you will work together.  How will you divide up workload? Which tools (Google docs, Dropbox, email, adding each other as users of your WordPress sites, etc.)
  5. Other factors that might affect the project
  6. Statement of how the team will resolve impasses
  7. Statement of how the team will handle missed deadlines
  8. Statement of what constitutes unacceptable work and how the team will handle this

Post this on each team member’s blog page. Print it and have all team members sign a copy to be retained by me by Thursday, 10/30.

Choosing a Research Issue

https://i2.wp.com/www.redearedslider.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/ask-question.jpg

Once your team has decided how they will work, I need to know on which topic you will do research.  Please post on your blog a statement, of no more than 300 words, on the following:

  • the research issue you and your partners will be examining;
  • the specific community about or for whom you are writing;
  • your stake in that community, and thus, in this project;
  • your interest in the topic;
  • what you may already know about the topic;
  • how you will research.

Work with your team members to develop this response.  Ideally, there will be some similar responses to each bullet point.

Where to begin research?

Head to the WSU Library guides via the link to the left or by clicking here.

Use scholar.google.com, ProQuest, CQ Researcher, Opposing Viewpoints, or any of the other databases available to Wayne State students.

Your annotated bibliographies (I’ll show you the format Thursday)  are due next week, Tuesday, 11/04.  You need to have credible sources including at least two new sources not used for any other work this semester (including the ISearch) .


Homework:

Finish I-Search.  Post on blog and to SafeAssign via BlackBoard.

Read Wayne Writer Ch. 5 pp. 145-159 and ch. 6 pp. 188-215

 

3050 Session Ten: Writing Instructions from Graphics

Let’s Practice Writing Instructions.

With your team, on paper, do the following for the image below:

  1. Create a title.
  2. Write a caption for each panel with no more than 6 words per panel.
  3. Determine a use for the blank panel.  Describe a picture, write a caption, and indicate where it should go in the sequence.Wash-Hands-Sign-NHE-13173_600

Let’s try with something a little more complex like Ikea Instructions.

Using this link or your own internet search, find a set of fake or real Ikea Instructions.  Complete the following on a team member’s blog:

  1. Post the image you chose (right click, “Copy Image” then paste it into your blog editing page.
  2. Translate the Swedish (or, faux Swedish) title and provide a new one using a phrase such as “How to…” or “Building a…”
  3. Write a short passage, at least two sentences or bullet point entry, for each image.  Don’t forget an introduction  for the first image, a parts and tools list.
  4. Comment on what images and instructions you may change, delete, or add for better comprehension.

Homework

Write: Final draft of Project Two, proposal memo due by 11:59 pm Thursday, October 2. Email a properly formatted word document to me and post a copy on a team member’s blog page devoted to Project Six documents.  Please email a link to  your document page.

Email a short (@ 150-300 words) memo detailing and defending your “rank-and-yank” ratings for Project Two.  Include your group’s decision made on your team charter. Remember, do not include yourself in the rankings.

Homework for Tuesday, 10/7

Read: Ch. 14 “Creating Reader-Centered Graphics” and Ch. 16 “Designing Reader-Centered Pages and Documents” in TC.

Write: Each team member should submit a short memo (@200-300 words) to me and your teammates detailing on what you would like to provide instructions.  Indicate your topic, your interest in working on it, your qualifications for taking on the topic. You may also wish to note one or more of your teammate’s qualifications as well.  If your team has not chosen a topic, this is a chance to persuade them to work on the topic you like best.


https://i0.wp.com/cf.chucklesnetwork.agj.co/items/1/2/0/0/8/4/i-had-friends-on-that-death-star.jpg

1020 Session Seven: Collaboration 9-18-14

Today’s Agenda:


Project Two

This project is two-fold.  You will work with one or two partners on an analysis of a piece of discourse you find rhetorically interesting.  Your analysis needs to be:

  1. written and each partner will submit to SafeAssign; and
  2. made into a presentation.

The written portion, in turn, will have two components:

  1. The collaboratively written analysis.
  2. Your personal reflection on the act of creating the presentation and working with a partner(s).

The presentation  needs to be multimedia and delivered to the class. It should last 5-10 minutes.  Ideally, your analysis should be delivered orally (you can use the written analysis as a script) enhanced and accompanied by multimedia.

https://i1.wp.com/www.quickmeme.com/img/ef/eff7bea2bfbbd848cdb5851dbe54e70f2839be387ace236010628c6ddf04aae6.jpg


 Two Issues about Project Two:

  1. How are you going to work on it?

  2. What are you going to work on?

Three primary models of collaboration are:

  • The Round Table

https://stablerenglish.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/f6371-37109chb-37110chb-37111chb-38247-instl.jpg?w=274&h=206Pros: Quick sharing of ideas among team members; Real time debate of pros and cons of project.

Cons: Difficult to schedule time to meet; Difficult to control input if there is only one keyboard operator; Can produce conflict that impedes production.

Most effective for brainstorming, task scheduling and progress reporting.

  • Divide-and-Conquer

https://i1.wp.com/www.hermanmiller.com/content/dam/hermanmiller/page_assets/why_digital/articles/modes_of_work/WHY_ModesOfWork_08.jpg

Pros: Assigned task can be completed in the least amount of time.

Cons: Minimal collaboration; Difficult to recover if a task is not completed by a team member; Inconsistencies in tone and style; Replications or gaps in final product

Most effective for small, specific tasks that are part of a larger project.

  • Layered Approach

https://i1.wp.com/www.policyexchange.org.uk/cache/com_zoo/images/competition%20meets%20collaboration%20static%20showcase_eb2a84690e40d7f80b7ee5b6a3c895f8.jpg

Pros: Each member has multiple opportunities to provide input, critique, and revise; More motivation due to ownership of the project; Similar to professional workplace collaboration

Cons: Different roles may create inequalities; Requires thoughtful and careful planning.

Most effective for drafting and revising tasks.

Topics for Project Two

Between you and your partner(s), if you have completed all the homework due up to this point in the semester, have already looked at numerous pieces of discourse. These include:

  • Blogs and “About Me” pages
  • Comparing two websites after reading ch. 2 of WW
  • A sample from your courses (which you were asked to bring in tonight)

In other words, you’ve already been exposed to a variety of genre and samples of discourse.  Your first task, tonight, is to find a partner or two with whom you wish to work and compare your genre analysis notes about the samples of discourse you brought with you.

You may write an analysis on anything you have already encountered in classwork or any new piece of discourse including advertisements, television networks or shows, documentaries, music videos, textbooks or other non-fiction. Choose wisely.  Use the following Venn diagram as a guide:

https://i1.wp.com/sixminutes.dlugan.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/02/venn-select-speech-topics.jpg

Whatever you decide to write on, keep your analysis grounded in the rhetorical situation.

Thesis statements for Project Two

Thesis statements for rhetorical analyses are a bit tricky. The central argument of the piece you are analyzing is its thesis. Your thesis, however, will be an argument about how that that thesis is made and supported.

A “skeletal structure” for the thesis will likely be some variation on the following:

 

A = Author(s)

W = Work being analyzed

T = Thesis of that work

X, Y, Z, Q(etc.) = particular strategies used by Author(s) to support their thesis  and/or questions and problems that arise

Any variation of this formula will work.

eg.  “In W, A argues T through X, Y, Z” or “Through the use of  X, Y, Z, A argues T in W.

Likewise, if you choose to analyze a genre from a specific discourse community, you may find that your thesis statement contains the following elements:

https://i0.wp.com/images.cjcarterdesigns.com/projects/skeleton1-jumbo.jpgG = Genre being analyzed

DC = Discourse community it is primarily found in

P =  Purpose the genre serves

X, Y, Z, Q(etc) = Specific features of the genre that serve the DC and/or questions or problems that arise

e.g. “The G helps DC by providing X, Y, Z in the pursuit of P.” or, “In order to P the DC uses G which features X, Y, Z.”


Homework:

Read:

Handout on an analysis of Comic images.

Weasel Words essay

Wayne Writer

“Analysis” and “Analyzing Media” from the “Introduction” to . pp. li-lxv.

Ch. 9 pp. 299-311 and and 337-355

Write:

Post on your blog a short response (@300 words) to “Writing Activity 9.9” on p. 351-2 of WW

3050 Session Seven: Project One Wrap-up and Teamwork 9-18-14

On Tap Today:


Hey you! Yeah, you! The team member that got “yanked”! You may be interested in this…

Vader not impressed

As we discussed, every one of these submissions could be improved.  Wikipedia submission or citation issues, formatting (links, graphics), and content issues can all be fixed. So, for a chance to redeem yourselves in my eyes, and to score a few bonus points (enough to significantly alter your final grade on the project, and perhaps the class) perform some sort of correction by 11:59 pm Thursday, 9/25. If you suspect that you may be the team member that was “yanked” (lost a point due to the evaluations of your peers) you may want to seriously consider this offer.

Teamwork Talk

As you may have discovered, there are multiple ways of working well (or not) together.

Three primary models are:

  • The Round Table

https://stablerenglish.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/f6371-37109chb-37110chb-37111chb-38247-instl.jpgPros: Quick sharing of ideas among team members; Real time debate of pros and cons of project.

Cons: Difficult to schedule time to meet; Difficult to control input if there is only one keyboard operator; Can produce conflict that impedes production.

Most effective for brainstorming, task scheduling and progress reporting.

  • Divide-and-Conquer

https://i1.wp.com/www.hermanmiller.com/content/dam/hermanmiller/page_assets/why_digital/articles/modes_of_work/WHY_ModesOfWork_08.jpg

Pros: Assigned task can be completed in the least amount of time.

Cons: Minimal collaboration; Difficult to recover if a task is not completed by a team member; Inconsistencies in tone and style; Replications or gaps in final product

Most effective for small, specific tasks that are part of a larger project.

  • Layered Approach

https://i1.wp.com/www.policyexchange.org.uk/cache/com_zoo/images/competition%20meets%20collaboration%20static%20showcase_eb2a84690e40d7f80b7ee5b6a3c895f8.jpg

Pros: Each member has multiple opportunities to provide input, critique, and revise; More motivation due to ownership of the project; Similar to professional workplace collaboration

Cons: Different roles may create inequalities; Requires thoughtful and careful planning.

Most effective for drafting and revising tasks.

Team Charters:

Before work can truly begin on Project Two (and Six), even before you decide on a research problem, it would be helpful to know how your team will plan to work.  With your group mates, develop a team charter.  Address the following points:

  1. Overall, broad team goals for the project
  2. Measurable, specific team goals
  3. Personal goals
  4. Individual level of commitment to the project
  5. Other factors that might affect the project
  6. Statement of how the team will resolve impasses
  7. Statement of how the team will handle missed deadlines
  8. Statement of what constitutes unacceptable work and how the team will handle this
  9. Decision on “rank-and-yank” (will you only “rank”, only “yank”, or do both?)

Homework:

Read Handout on Team Writing

Project Two Page and Examples

Write: “Apply Your Expertise” #3 on p.  409 by tonight, 9/18 Write a memo (300 words) to your teammates in response to “Apply Your Expertise” #3.  Consider your execution of Project One and suggest three ways your team can improve productivity heading into Projects Two and Six.  Persuasively explain each suggestion.

Team Charter. Memo format from the team to me. Post it on a team blog page and email the link to me. Print and have all team members sign/initial a copy to be retained by me. by Tuesday 9/23

3050 Session Two: Purpose and Audience 9/2/14

https://i2.wp.com/img4.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20131105191248/starwars/images/7/7d/Death_Star_Owner%27s_Technical_Manual_blueprints.jpg

Today’s Agenda:

  • Problems with wordpress or wikipedia?
  • Syllabus questions
  • Review of Chapters 1 & 3 of Technical Communication
  • Introduction to Project One
  • Team Formations

What is Technical Communication?

Essential Aspects:

  • Produced for a practical purpose (to inform, explain, instruct)
  • Directed toward (a) particular audience(s)
  • Focused on “usability” of final product and/or or persuasive power in influence the decisions of stakeholders (rather than aesthetic concerns, enjoyment, etc.)

 Common Aspects:

  • Uses several popular genres of writing/communication (memo, report, instruction set, white paper, proposal, progress report, etc)
  • Employs visuals, graphics, formatting techniques
  • Often requires collaboration
  • Increasingly produced in a digital environment
  • Deadline driven

 

Reader-Centered Strategies for Effective Technical Communication (part one)

We’ll discuss this in greater detail in later classes

  • Help readers find key information quickly
  • Use an accessible writing style

 

Defining the Objective of a Technical Communication:

 

  • What task will your communication help a reader perform?
  • What information does your reader desire/require?
    • What is your reader already likely to know?
    • What will need to be explained to them?
  • How will your reader “read” the communication (skim for key points? read from beginning to end? read in a hurry?)?
  • How will your reader use the information you are providing (as a reference? to perform a certain action? to make a decision?)?
  • What constraints/affordances are provided you as a writer, given your task and the genre of your writing and/or its delivery mechanism?

(See Figure 3.1 in Text or download the Writer’s Guide here.)

Beginning Project One

Memo for Project One:

Between now and midnight of Wednesday 9/3/14 you will compose a memo (300-500 words, single spaced) with information about the following:

  1. group membership and your group’s decision on the “rank-and-yank” question as well as any other essential information about how you plan to collaborate productively (e.g., settle problems, delegate work);
  2. the topic you have chosen for Project One and why you think this is an appropriate topic given the expertise of your group and the constrains of Wikipedia as an open-author knowledge base (see, in particular, the questions listed above under “Defining the Objective of a Technical Communication” for guidance on this question);
  3. the challenges of the assignment, as you see them, given the constraints of Wikipedia entries in general and your chosen topic in particular; and
  4. your strategies for overcoming the challenges you have identified.

You have already read a chapter on writing effective memos in Technical Communication. See also here and here for other useful information on memo writing.

Before leaving class today, please provide me with the following information by filling out the form below or on a slip of paper.

Homework:

  • READ for Thursday:
    • Markel on Writing Definitions pages 564 – 571 & 574-579
    • Using this list, or Google, find a blog related to your major, career path, or personal interest.  Read a post or two to get a feel for the blog and blogger(s). Post the URL of your chosen blog on your wordpress site.
  • WRITE:
    • Upload Project One Memo to your blog by 11:59 pm, Wed. 9/3/14
    • Write an evaluation (@ 300-500 words) describing the blog you found above.  Identify and describe the following:
      • Readers and their characteristics
      • What the blogger(s) want their readers to do
      • The ways the blogger(s) influence readers’ attitudes and actions
      • How well these objectives were met (or not).
      • Post this to your wordpress or other blog by 11:59 pm, Mon. 9/8/14